Acceptance, Be Happy, Be Kind, Fake People, Get Over Yourself, Photo Shop, Self respect, Uncategorized

Is It You, Or Is It Photoshop?

I recently got a friend request on social media by an old acquaintance.  I recognized the name, but I did not recognize the face.  Now, I do understand that most of us look different than we did twenty or thirty years ago, but it’s because we have a few more wrinkles or gray hair.  This person is older than me, but she looked so photo shopped and filtered, that she didn’t even look like an older version of herself!  Why?  Who was she trying to fool?  Is she that insecure with herself that she can’t admit that she is now thirty years older than the last time I saw her?  Doesn’t she like herself?

This morning on one of the morning shows, they discussed an app to fix your face.  I get it.  It makes sense to get rid of blemishes, or a few wrinkles sometimes.  But when you’ve lengthened your chin, widened your eyes, raised your cheekbones, narrowed your nose, slimmed your thighs, etc, you no longer look like yourself!  The image you are putting out there is fake.  Not only are you putting out a fake physical image of yourself, but it tells me that your personality is also fake, or dishonest because you’re trying to be something you’re not.

I’m not talking about super models and actors being photo shopped and have their cellulite smoothed.  Looking beautiful is their job.  But it does put pressure on “real” people to try to age the same way.  Too much focus is on this, and not on what really counts…..beautiful hearts!

Do I wish I looked younger?  Of course! But I am glad I know what I know about life at this age!  My wrinkles and the 10 extra pounds I’ve gained in twenty years are my scars that represent personal and spiritual growth.  I’ve always had a bit of a problem being a door mat, but as I’ve grown older (and wiser….and more wrinkled), I am better at standing up for myself.  I know I don’t have to take abuse from anyone, and I know I don’t have to kiss anyone’s butt to be liked.  Sure, it hurts when people don’t like me, but I know I can’t do anything about it.  I take pride in the fact that I always try to be nice and understanding.  For the most part, I like me!

I will not be fake.  My personality is not fake, and neither is my face. I’m not so insecure that I feel the need to alter my appearance to where I am unrecognizable. I am me.  I will always be me, even with my wrinkles!  I’m not a super model, nor do I try to look like one (my legs are too short anyway!).  I’d rather be recognized for the good things I do, my sense of humor, generosity, and kindness.  So if you see a picture of me on social media, it’s all the real me.  And….as for the lady who sent me a friend request?  Well, I didn’t accept it.  I don’t know that person.

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Anger, Attitude Adjustments, Bad Attitudes, Be Happy, Be Kind, Bullying, Communication Skills, Compassion, Don't Judge, Egos, Get Over Yourself, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Insensitivity, Kindness, Loyalty, Manners, Misconceptions, Negativity, Positive Attitudes, Respect, Self respect, Speak Up!, travel, Uncategorized, Understanding, Watch, Listen, and Learn

Sweet Land of Liberty

Well, today I am going to write about something that may make a few people mad.  It’s something that I have been feeling and wanting to write about for awhile now, but I’ve had to approach it in a constructive way.  I already have a few people in the world who can’t stand me for whatever reason, but I just need to vent a bit here.

I’m sick and tired of hearing people constantly criticizing the United States.  I don’t hear the same type of constant criticisms about other countries the way I hear about our country.  I know…..Americans are viewed as arrogant, and I know quite a few arrogant Americans, but I know a lot more Americans who are kind-hearted, and loving.  I know….our government has some major flaws right now, and I for one, cannot stand the man in the White House…..but he does not represent everyone, or what I see as the “American Dream.” I get it. We are a big, powerful country, which makes us a target.  But I’ve had enough.

I recently read a blog about what we do wrong, written by a European, now living in the USA.  First of all, if we are such a horrible country, then why is this person living here?  The criticisms I’ve heard are that we are too friendly, we dress too casually, our restaurant dishes are too big, we have free refills on drinks, we tip, we have “to go” boxes, we ask strangers, “how are you?” in our greetings, we drive too much, our children drive too early, but drink too late, guns, healthcare, and blah, blah, blah.  If I addressed everything he wrote about, I would be writing all night.

So….I love living in a friendly place.  I know people will help me, if I need it, especially if they have presented me with a warm smile.  I’ve received compliments from total strangers in public before…..sometimes a little creepy, but most of the time, I welcome a kind word and someone asking how I am.  I usually respond with, “I’m fine, thank you!  How are you?” Why is this wrong?

Dressing casually….well, why not?  And what is considered casual?  I don’t approve of the pajamas at Walmart, but I don’t like shopping at Walmart anyway!  But we can dress up when we want to, and most of us do.  My father wore a suit and tie to work every day, and seldom wore jeans or sneakers.  I live in a beach community.  It’s 90+ degrees every day with extreme humidity, making it feel like a 110 degree sauna.  I wear sun dresses or jeans with a nice shirt, cute shoes (always!), and jewelry to work every day…..is that too casual?  Why wear a suit in this weather?  You’ll MELT! And really, why does anyone else care? It’s not like I’m going to a wedding in a bikini!

Al and I went to lunch today, and we spent less than $50 (including dessert and tip).  Yes, the portions were large, but we didn’t eat them all (some Americans aren’t obese either).  I brought home enough leftovers for at least 2 more meals! This is extremely cost effective, common, and smart!  And our service was excellent, because our wait person was working for a tip!  The better the service, the better the tip, so she probably makes more than I do as a teacher! I’ve been to some countries where the customer service is crap, and I wish they were working for tips….maybe they would be more attentive! Oh yeah, and we also got free refills in “to go” cups for our tea because as our waitress said, “It’s about 130 degrees out there!  You’ll need something cold to take with you!” See how that works?  Reasonably priced meal, great service, leftovers, and a nice dining experience.  How is that wrong?

Driving….well, if you live in a city, you are more likely to have access to public transportation.  Let’s face it, this country is HUGE, and we are very spread out.  We like the space!  In order to get places, we do drive, but we also love road trips, and exploring our country, and you can’t get that in a taxi or a subway.  We don’t all drive gas guzzling vehicles, and enjoy learning about the diversity and history of our country.  Our children drive young (not something I necessarily agree with) because this country was built on family farms.  Farmers had a lot of children to help, and they needed to drive trucks and farm vehicles to help.  My father started driving at 12 years old (in 1936) from necessity.  So licenses at 16 or 17 (after a period of restriction) isn’t all that strange to us.

Alcohol….this one I have to agree with.  If our young men and women are able to fight for our country, and our boys are required to register for the draft, then yes….they should be able to have a beer!  I remember when the drinking age jumped to 21 nationwide.  Before that, the states had their own age limitations.  In Kansas and Oklahoma, you could buy low point beer at 18, but liquor at 21.  In Iowa, it was 19 for everything.  The Mothers Against Drunk Drivers were behind this, if I remember right.  They wanted to keep it out of the hands of high school students, which I understand, and can sympathize with too.  But if the kids want it, they will get it.  I thought 19 was a good compromise. And I have read that teenage drinking has dropped in recent years.

Guns and healthcare….well, we do have a problem.  I will not argue with this.  But some of us want solutions, or at least compromises, to these issues, and some of us don’t.  Please don’t lump all of us in to being part of the problem.  It’s a real concern for many.

A few weeks ago, I met some people on the beach from a European country (I won’t say which one, because I don’t believe in doing that to anyone….just like us, they do not all think and act alike).  They had flown to Washington DC, drove south to Miami, and were now on their way to New Orleans, stopping in our little community for a day or two to rest. Now, how many European countries can you travel that distance and still be in the same country?  Like I said before, our country is vast, and I think they were surprised by that, but how cool!  But they had nothing nice to say about us or our country!  I was really annoyed.  Here they were, sitting next to a total stranger, on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (free admission and free parking), complaining about everything, and saying we had no freedom.  And by the way, this American was more than happy to take their picture with the water in the background, and watch the lady’s purse while they went for a stroll on the beach, but you couldn’t do that in every country. They complained about where they stayed, thinking it was ON the beach.  It was on the Sound, and just over the bridge to the beach.  They complained that they had to drive to the beach.  I told them they could have walked over the bridge…a lot of people do.  They were afraid of the traffic….there is a walking/bike path.  Americans eat too much and are fat….these folks weren’t particularly skinny!  Black people shouldn’t be on the beach….I really had to hold my tongue with this one…..but then they complained about the racism we have.  I told them that my husband and I are teachers, and what we teach.  When I said that my husband works with students in the behavior unit, they assumed they were just “brats.”  I had to inform them that the majority of them suffer from some level of autism, and can’t help it.  Believe me, by the time I was finished talking with these rude tourists, I wanted to ask them why they bothered coming here if everything is so horrible!

I love my country, even though we are really in the midst of some awful things right now.  It was a safe place to grow up and raise children, and my parents encouraged all five of their children to go to college. We aren’t tacky, stupid, rude, or lazy.  Obviously, I have manners for not criticizing these individuals, or their countries.  We have a lot of freedoms here that many of us take for granted, and we should always protect.  But one thing that I will not stand for is someone telling me how we are “wrong” because we have a different culture.  This is OUR culture….like it or don’t.  There are a lot of things we do right, and some things we need to work on.  We are not everything you see in the news and on television.  As much as I struggle at times to understand what is happening in our country, it’s still MY country, and if it isn’t something you like, or can appreciate, or say something nice about, then go away…..you need to learn some manners!

Be Happy, Be Kind, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Married to My Best Friend, Relationships, Togetherness, Uncategorized, Weddings

My Royal Wedding

Watching the wedding of Harry and Meghan this weekend really made me think about weddings and relationships.  I’ve never been a fan of big weddings because I feel like it takes away from what the true meaning should be. It shouldn’t be a production or a show, but sweet and personal.  Big weddings are usually beautiful and all, but it just isn’t my thing.

My own wedding to Al two and a half years ago was perfect…..for us.  We had both been through some pretty dark times with our health and other relationships.  The combination of the two of us going through so much separately, and then facing some rough times together, showed us that we are much stronger together, and that it really is a great thing to go through life with your best friend.  There we were in a park in New Orleans, with a minister, his wife, a few squirrels, and the beauty of nature all around us.  No, not in a church, but it felt pretty heavenly in that setting!  My emotions were in full swing!  Yes, I cried through the whole thing!  Happy tears!  Tears of joy!  I was so happy, and feeling every vow we spoke, coming straight from our hearts.  No choir, no family, no bridesmaids, groomsmen, no flower girls, no ring bearers, no friends, and no added stress.  It was all about us, and making our promises to each other…..no other fuss.  We even got a little laugh in when the minister asked if anyone had any objections….”speak now, or forever hold your peace,”……….no, not even the squirrels could deny us this happiness!  Neither of us were a bit nervous.  We knew we were doing the right thing, and the timing was finally right for us.

Big weddings, small weddings,  weddings in a church, on a cruise ship, a wheat field, a judge’s office, a forest, a castle……it doesn’t matter.  Whatever works for you, and how you want to handle it, is all that matters.  What happens afterwards is really where it counts!  My children have accepted Al, and love him for how happy he makes me.  He loves my children, and I love his too.  As long as we are happy, and are there for each other “in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer,” protecting and defending each other through anything and everything, then it can work, no matter what obstacles.  There are days when I actually think back about those vows, and how I meant every word of them.  My marriage and my loyalty and love for Al mean more every day.  I try to spoil him as much as I can because I always want him to know that he deserves the best I have to give.  And he’s pretty good about returning that, by spoiling me too.

We may not have a castle, or a lot of money, but we have each other, and we are blessed to have that. Love, laughter, selflessness, sincerity, and true friendship……that is what really matters…..til death do us part.

Be Happy, Be Kind, Comfort, Family, Kindness, Mother, Mother's Day, Relationships, Uncategorized

Celebrating Our Mothers

Mother’s Day….that bittersweet day for those of us who no longer have a mother here on Earth.  It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate our mothers….even if they are no longer with us.  There are also mother figures we can celebrate.  No one can ever take the place of our mothers, but we should consider ourselves blessed to have female friends who are there to love, guide, and protect us.

I have several female friends who I know I can reach out to for advice, a good laugh, a cry, or just to vent, and I love them for that.  They’ve come into my life at different times, when I had different needs, but they’ve remained….as part of my circle of support. They live all over the country, but I know I can pick up the phone right now, and they would be there for me.  We may have sisters, aunts, or cousins who can also be mother figures to us.

What about the single fathers out there who have no partner to help?  They deserve to be recognized as well, for being both mother and father!

While I’ve never met my ex husband’s current wife, and I doubt we would be friends, I am grateful that she seems to love and care about my children.  I know that I am their mother, and no one will ever replace me.  But why would I deny my children the opportunity of receiving more love and friendship?  Just as my husband is a very loving, supportive friend to my children, we are secure enough to know we can’t be replaced.  The more love for them, the better! You can never have enough, and my children deserve that!  But I will always be the only mother they have.

So yes, this holiday is a little rough for me.  I do the best I can, even though there are always a few tears, while I miss my mama.  I will get through it, and I will enjoy hearing from my three “babies” that day.  It’s a day worth celebrating, and showing the women in our lives how much we appreciate them.  Let’s celebrate the women we love (and who love us) this Mother’s Day….our mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, step-mothers, friends…..whether they are still with us or not……whether they have children of their own or not.  The nurturing we do for one another is priceless.

To all of my female friends and family…..happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Art, Be Happy, Crawfish Festival, Happiness, Life Happens.....Make the Best Of It!, Misconceptions, Pensacola, Pensacola Lighthouse Museum, Thankfulness, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Appreciating Your Surroundings

It sure was a beautiful weekend here last weekend!  Because I’ve been really stressed lately, I needed the weekend in a big way!  Al and I don’t get to see each other for more than a couple of hours each day during the week because of our work schedules, and sometimes he works on Saturdays, so it felt like we hadn’t really had a chance to talk about much lately.  We spent Saturday downtown, where it seemed that everyone and their dog  were also out and about (seriously…..there are dogs EVERYWHERE downtown, and I love it!)!  It was busy with graduations, the Crawfish Festival, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, farmers’ market, and  people out just enjoying the beautiful weather!  It was nice to see so many people enjoying the festivities.

We walked, and talked a lot, and of course, when we are together, there’s always a lot of laughter and affection.  We started by cruising through the farmers’ market, which is weekly, and we have a our favorite vendors we like.  We sat at the Crawfish Festival, listening to the music, watching the people, talking to new people, and enjoying the food.  There was an abundance of delicious items, besides the “mudbugs” (crawfish, for those of you who aren’t familiar with that term)….shrimp, alligator, oysters, shark, chicken, gumbo, etouffee, rice and beans, paella, etc.  Then we walked through downtown, and stopped off at a few places along the way, just enjoying each other’s company.

This part of Florida has a hillbilly reputation…..some of it earned, but some of that label is unfair.  Pensacola has rich history.  Did you know that it even predates Jamestown and St. Augustine?  We have historical museums, art museums, the Naval History Museum and Lighthouse, Fort Pickens (where Geronimo was held when our government was relocating/imprisoning Native Americans), GREAT food, dolphin cruises, fishing excursions, entertainment, and shopping…..oh, and don’t forget the beautiful beaches (some of the best in the world), and water sports.  Every weekend, all year long, it seems that there is some sort of festival going on (usually free) from Destin to Pensacola.  Whether it’s seafood, art, jazz, Gallery Night, or a cultural festival, there always seems to be something happening, and you can experience it on a budget.  We also have minor league baseball and hockey teams.

No, we aren’t Miami or New York, but that’s okay.  If we wanted that, we could go there.  Those places are fun to visit, and have great energy, but the pace of life here is a lot more agreeable to our lifestyle now.  We have what we need, and enjoy our peace and quiet as well.  We can relax on the beach, or stay busy in town.  We can appreciate our life here, and make the most of what it offers.  We love good weather, and we have over 300 days of sunshine a year…..as Al says, “You can’t beat that!” I’ve been fortunate to live in a lot of different places in my life, and I have appreciated each one for everything it offers.  Take the time to learn about your surroundings.  Appreciate the history, food, culture, and weather.  Even though I have to deal with the lizards, frogs, snakes, and bears, I do like it here, and I get to be here with my best friend.  Will we stay here forever? Who knows?  But for now, this works for us.

 

Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Coping, Do something, Doing your best, Happiness, Uncategorized

I’m Doing the Best I Can

Well, it’s spring break, and it’s been a bit of a different kind of week off for me.  Usually, I spend spring break with a few days at the beach, a lot of cleaning and organizing, and my youngest daughter comes to visit if she can get a few days off from school.  Well this year…..the planets are aligned differently I guess. It’s been nice, but different.  I’ve had another doctor’s appointment (ugh!), with yet another adjustment to my meds.  I’ve been to the farmer’s market with my husband, and to a couple of local museums (you just can’t beat buy one get one free coupons!).  We’ve fixed a television and a toilet.  I’ve studied for, and passed, another three hour test for my post licensing real estate course.  I’ve rested a lot.  I’ve scared a snake……he scared me first.  I’ve been annoyed with Facebook and the data breach.  I’ve watched a lot of television shows that I enjoy.  I’ve tried to organize a few things around the house.  That’s a slow process, but I’ll get there…..maybe.  Otherwise, you might find me on an episode of Hoarders!  Just kidding!  I’m not anywhere near that….yet!  So I”ve been able to get a few things accomplished, while relaxing.  Nothing exciting at all, but I’m doing the best I can, and it’s exactly what I need.

I used to think that needing to be busy and doing something was important for the time off from work.  And it is….but that something may involve just going for a walk to get fresh air, or watching movies and relaxing, or reading a book.  Teachers work hard.  I spend an hour and a half in the car every day for a commute.  I’m enjoying the peace and quiet away from my busy, lovable 1st graders!  Besides, having a chronic illness has forced me to make changes.  I’m not missing out on life, but I do have to adjust! Even though my activity level has changed, the week off still seems to be flying by! But part of me still feels like I should be doing something.

Part of these lifestyle changes have involved a bit of guilt.  I feel like I screw up fun for other people.  I can’t have things too loud.  I get tired easily.  I need to hold onto things or people for balance.  I feel dizzy and light headed most of the time….some people will say it matches my personality! And my head hurts!  I may not be the life of the party, but if you tell me to walk across a room unassisted, I am the party!  I’ve never been one to need to be the center of attention because of an intense social anxiety problem, but I’ve always enjoyed being out and about, and doing things.  I like meeting people in the right setting.  I like learning about people, and new places.  So making lifestyle changes is hard.  I would guess it would be similar to trying to eat healthier, exercise more, or stop smoking or drinking. Those seem to be pretty common and relatable, and we need to support anyone who is just doing the best they can.  Have you ever been out to eat with someone who is on a diet?  Or at a party where alcohol is being served with someone who is struggling to stop drinking?  It’s hard for them, but we support them.  They’re doing the best they can.  That’s all we can ask of them.  No guilt.

So I guess I need to stop putting guilt on myself, and remind myself daily that I’m doing the best I can…..that’s doing something.  No one else is going through exactly what I’m going through.  Sure, other people have had this condition, and I’m so grateful to my friends who are there for me to answer my questions (especially my friend Karen from college!).  But no one knows what I deal with daily, just as I don’t know what they deal with.  I would assume that everyone is just doing the best that they can, no matter what their circumstances.  That’s all we can ask of each other.

If I’m grumpy, it might be my best for that day.  If I’m sleepy, it might be my best.  If I’m goofy, it might be my best.  If I seem fine, it might be my best.  If I want to walk around a quiet museum, it might be my best.  If I’m confused or in pain, it might be my best.  I have to stop allowing myself (and others) to make me feel like I’m lazy or rude or not pulling my weight if I am unable to do more.  So this week, what might seem like a mediocre, boring spring break to others is my best, and it’s exactly what I need for me.  If we are all doing our best, then we should all get along just fine, right?  How about we all do our best for support, understanding, and not judging what we don’t understand.  I promise it won’t cost a thing, and it might make life a lot easier.  Do your best for you, and don’t feel guilty for it.  That’s doing something.

 

Art, Be Happy, Clutter, Collecting, Decorating, Eclectic, Happiness, Uncategorized, Unique Personalities

Is It Clutter, Or Is It You?

Our brains and minds and lives are full of stuff we don’t need.  The world is full of information and stuff.  Clutter.  Does it do us any good? Is it comforting?  I have been able to trim things down and get rid of things that I felt held no sentimental value.  But what is considered to be clutter to some may be someone else’s whole life.  I’ve watched the show Hoarders, and am glad I am not attached to paper bags and broken pencils, but I’m sure some people wonder why I have some of the things I have! Now that I’ve said that, I am in no way a hoarder! I do know a few people who I feel may have a problem with “collecting,” but that’s not me.  Getting through my house is very easy!

At one point in my life, I had a 2800 square foot Victorian home, built in 1886, with beautiful woodwork, leaded and stained glass windows, pocket doors, tall ceilings, etc.  It was full of big furniture, and since I had three children living with me at the time, it was also full of toys and games.  I wouldn’t trade those memories of my children for anything, but I never want to have a big house, or that much stuff, ever again.  I’ve downsized, and de-cluttered, and now live in a smaller (1700 sq. ft.) home.  It’s a “cookie cutter” home, but we’ve made it ours with our unusual style of decorating and things that mean a lot to us.  From where I sit right now, I see the American flag from my father’s memorial service, that belongs to my son. I also see the American flag that flew at my grandparents’ home in China in the 1930’s.  Things like that are priceless because they can never be replaced, holding so much sentiment.  I also see a cabinet with some of my old toys and dolls,  and some of my grandmother’s and mother’s dolls.  Again….most of those things can’t be replaced.  They are worth nothing to anyone else. There’s the piggy bank my Grandpa Penry gave me when I was 4…..and my Grannie Slater’s salt and pepper shakers…..my first Barbie…..my Raggedy Ann……a few old Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars…….I have very specific memories of most of these things.  They’re put away nicely and neatly in my cabinet……..not worth much monetarily, but they mean a lot to me.  Over in the corner is my Grannie’s chair that used to sit in her dining room, next to her telephone…..I can see her sitting there, talking to various relatives or neighbors…..I also remember standing on it to call my sister to help me with a mouse when I was at Grannie’s alone (she didn’t help me…..something about not wanting to drive all the way across town to pick up a dead mouse!  Sheesh!).  Family.  History.  There are pictures everywhere……the kids, our parents, grandparents, places we’ve visited, the park where we were married in New Orleans……there can never be too many pictures! We also have a ton of books….I’ve had to clear out a few of those too, but many belonged to our parents, my grandparents, and even great grandparents.  Some are treasures from places we’ve lived or visited…..more memories.

These things are not clutter to us.  They are our lives, our loves.  I don’t need the latest gadgets in the kitchen, my furniture is old (and comfy), I have some older pieces of furniture that belonged to my parents, that I’ve painted or refinished.  Our cars are not new (and not paid for!), but we have our little treasures. Al’s collection of African masks in the hallway, along with the wall of family photos, remind us each day how diverse and eclectic our tastes are.  But they represent us, and who and what we love.

Our home will never look like a designer showcase home.  I wouldn’t want it to.  I watch the home decorating/renovating shows, and get a few ideas, but I would never want our home to look like everyone else’s.  While Pinterest is interesting, and has some really pretty decorating ideas, those ideas will look like everyone else’s house.  I’m sure people come into our house and wonder what in the world they have stepped into…..but they can never come away from our house saying it’s boring!

Having a home like this also reflects our personalities.  Have you ever been in a home that is stark and boring with no character?  Nothing personal?  To me, this usually indicates a boring personality too!  What do you like?  Where have you been?  Where do you come from?  Do you love your family?  Your friends?  Your life?  My husband and I definitely have unique personalities!  We love to have fun, travel, and make new memories.  We are building our life together, and bringing our happy times from the past along for the ride.  The places we’ve lived and have visited….the people we’ve met, and have loved…..have made us who we are today.  Why wouldn’t we want our home to reflect that?  Why shouldn’t our home be uniquely ours?  We are unique.  Our story is unique.  Our home is our sanctuary, and where we share our life together. It’s us.  But stuff isn’t what makes us happy.  We have all we need.  If we lost it all tomorrow, but still had our health and each other, we could still be happy.  Some people never learn this.  They just want more stuff.

Make your home yours.  Your “clutter” is unique to you.  And if it’s in your heart, or part of who you are, is it really clutter?  Or is it really you?  It may be just stuff to some, but don’t let anyone tell you that it holds no value if it’s part of you. If it is comforting to you, and if it holds memories or sentimental value to you, then be proud of it.  Enjoy your clutter” if you love it!